Lawsuit seeking $5 million says victims of Florida condominium collapse deserve compensation

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USA TODAY 25 June, 2021 - 07:05am 35 views

Who owns the Champlain Towers in Miami?

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Friday morning that the death toll had risen to four, while 159 people were unaccounted for and 120 people have been accounted for. Plaintiff Manuel Drezner is the owner and resident of a unit in the Champlain Towers South condo. NBC 6 South Florida1st Lawsuit Filed Against Champlain Towers After Partial Surfside Building Collapse

How old is the building that collapsed in Miami?

Police in Miami-Dade County have confirmed that at least one person has died, with many more lives feared in danger. Fire and rescue officials said approximately 55 apartment units were destroyed by the collapse inside the Champlain Towers South complex, a 40-year-old building that houses more than 136 units in total. NPRAt Least 1 Dead After A 12-Story Building Partially Collapses Near Miami : Live Updates: Miami-Area Condo Collapse

Where is Champlain Towers?

What's nearby: Champlain Towers South is one of three buildings (there are also east and north towers) that host more than 300 collective residences. It's located along the Atlantic Way, about a block from North Beach Oceanside Park and sandwiched between Bal Harbour to the north and Miami Beach to the south. CNNWhat we know about the building that partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida

A lawsuit has been filed after the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida partially collapsed Thursday morning.

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Rescue efforts continued in Surfside, Florida after part of a 12-story oceanside condo collapsed. USA TODAY

After a beachfront condominium collapsed in Surfside, Florida, a lawsuit, believed to be the first, was filed late Thursday night.  

A class-action lawsuit on behalf of Manuel Drezner, a nearby property owner, and other victims was filed at 11:29 p.m. against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association Inc., Local10 first reported. 

“This action seeks to compensate the victims of this unfathomable loss,” the lawsuit filed by the Brad Sohn Law Firm said.  

The court filing alleges the condominium in did not provide adequate protection for residents and visitors to the building, did not repair structural issues and failed to prevent the “catastrophic” collapse of the building. 

The lawsuit is seeking more than $5 million in damages. 

“According to public statements made by defendant’s attorney Ken Direktor, ‘repair needs had been identified’ with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed,” the lawsuit said. 

At 1:30 a.m. Thursday, a wing of the 12-story building collapsed, killing at least four people and 159 unaccounted for as of Friday morning.  

The collapse was caught on video and drone footage showed the aftermath of the destruction. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials were able to account for 102 people and fire and rescue teams worked into the night Thursday to search for the people still unaccounted for. 

The Miami-Herald reported the building, built in 1981, was going through an inspection required by Florida every 40 years to be recertified. 

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment, found the high rise had been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s in a study conducted in 2020.

“I looked at it this morning and said, ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that,” he said.

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Surfside building collapse latest: 159 still unaccounted for as death toll rises to 4

ABC News 25 June, 2021 - 01:19pm

"We still have hope that we will find people alive."

At least four people are dead and 159 others are unaccounted for after a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in southern Florida's Miami-Dade County early Thursday, officials said.

"Tragically, I woke up to learn that three bodies had been pulled from the rubble last night. Devastating news for families waiting for any hope of survival," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told ABC News' Cecelia Vega in an interview Friday on "Good Morning America."

"Those three people have not been identified at this time," she noted. "It does bring our count to four of those who have lost their lives in this tragedy."

One of the four victims has been identified by family as Stacie Fang, the mother of Jonah Handler, a boy who was captured getting rescued from the rubble by firefighters Thursday.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie," the family said in a statement. "The members of the Fang and Handler family would like to express our deepest appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy, compassion and support we have received. The many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time. On behalf of Stacie's son, Jonah, we ask you now to please respect our privacy to grieve and to try to help each other heal."

A massive search and rescue operation has been underway since then, as crews carefully comb through the pancaked wreckage and remaining structure in hopes of finding survivors. So far, they have rescued 35 people who were trapped in the building and two others from beneath the rubble, according to Jadallah.

Footage from the scene showed firefighters rescuing people from still-standing balconies.

Jadallah told reporters that at least 11 people were medically assessed and treated on site, four of whom were then transported to local hospitals.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have been accounted for has gone up to 120, according to Levine Cava, who cautioned that the numbers are "very fluid."

"We will continue search and rescue because we still have hope that we will find people alive," Levine Cava said during a press conference in Surfside on Friday morning. "That is exactly why we are continuing."

"It's not necessarily human sounds," Jadallah said during a press conference in Surfside on Friday morning. "It could be various things. It could be just steel twisting, it could be debris raining down."

"We have hope," he added, "and every time that we hear a sound, we concentrate on that area."

The remaining structure that still stands has been cleared by the rescue crews and all resources have now shifted focus to the rubble, according to Jadallah.

Levine Cava said there are trained experts, including structural engineers, on site to help keep rescuers safe while they search for survivors but that there is still "extreme risk."

"Debris is falling on them as they do their work," she told reporters Friday. "But they are proceeding because they are so motivated and they are taking extraordinary risk on the scene every day."

Jadallah said it's a risk that they are willing to take if it means finding people alive.

"It's the risk versus benefit," he told reporters Friday. "Every time we have that belief, that there's hope, you know, with personnel that are trapped, we do risk our lives."

"Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency," the statement noted.

Levine Cava told ABC News that she's "grateful" to the president.

"He called me yesterday morning and asked me what I needed. I told him FEMA would be a great assist to us and he moved mountains," she said.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is now pulling additional resources from FEMA to assist with the search and rescue efforts, Jadallah told reporters Friday morning.

So far, there is no evidence of foul play, according to Levine Cava.

"Of course, it's not ruled out," she told ABC News on Friday. "Nothing's ruled out. But, at this point, nothing to indicate that."

The Champlain Towers South condominium was built in the 1980s and was up for its 40-year recertification, according to Surfside officials. The roof was also undergoing work and the entire building had been under scrutiny due to potential construction projects nearby, officials said.

The Champlain Towers South Condo Association was preparing to start a new construction project to make updates and the condominium had been through extensive inspections, according to Kenneth Direktor, a lawyer for the association. Direktor said the construction plans had already been submitted to the Town of Surfside but the only work that had begun was on the roof.

Direktor noted that he hadn't been warned of any structural issues with the building or about the land it was built on. He said there was water damage to the complex, but that is common for oceanfront properties and wouldn't have caused the partial collapse.

"Nothing like this has ever been seen, at least not in the 40 years I've been doing this," Direktor told ABC News during a remote interview on Thursday.

Public records show a lawsuit was filed in 2015, claiming an outside wall of the Champlain Towers South had water damage and cracks. Engineers were hired to go through the inspection process, according to Direktor.

“Nothing like this was addressed to the board or the owners as an existing risk," he said.

"When we measure subsidence or when we see movement of the buildings, it's worth checking why it happens," Wdowinski, who analyzed space-based radar data, said in a statement Thursday. "We cannot say what is the reason for that from the satellite images but we can say there was movement here."

Areas where land is subsiding are more likely to experience more serious effects of sea level rise, according to the study, which was published in the international journal Ocean & Coastal Management.

Miami-Dade County officials are aware of the study and are "looking into" it, Levine Cava told ABC News.

“It's just ... bizarre for me to see what happened here because of the rarity of something like this happening,” Batista told ABC News during a remote interview Thursday.

John Pistorino, a longtime structural engineer in Miami who helped write Florida's building codes, told Tequesta ABC affiliate WPBF that he has been hired to help investigate what caused the partial collapse and said it could take "months." Once search and rescue efforts have finished, the structure will be dismantled and the debris will be looked at "piece by piece," he said.

Investigators will also look at any reports on the building and may send samples from the site to a laboratory for testing, according to Pistorino.

When asked what could have led to the partial collapse, he said "it could be a number of issues."

"There's just too many issues for me to even begin to come up with a laundry list of possibilities that would be informative," Pistorino told WPBF during a telephone interview Thursday. "I'm just surprised that it happened to begin with."

"We are working with the Consulates of various countries in the Western Hemisphere to help secure travel visas for family members who need to travel to the U.S.," Rubio wrote in a post on his official Twitter account on Thursday evening.

Paraguay's foreign ministry said that six Paraguayan nationals were in the building and are still missing: Sophia López-Moreira, the sister of the country's first lady; her husband, Luis Pettengill; their three children; and their nanny, Lady Luna Villalba. Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez canceled his events due to the incident.

Meanwhile, Argentina's consulate in Miami said that nine Argentine nationals are missing. Venezuela's ambassador to the United States confirmed that four Venezuelan nationals are missing. Uruguay's foreign ministry said that three Uruguayan nationals have been affected by the incident, though their status was unclear. Colombia's foreign ministry also reported that six Colombian nationals resided in the condominium and officials were still trying to determine whether they were there at the time of the collapse.

A Miami-Dade County official told ABC News it's been difficult to determine how many people were in the collapsed section of the building, partly due to the fact that there isn't an on-scene management company that keeps track. The condominium is a mix of full-time residents, seasonal residents, renters and short-term visitors, so authorities have been relying largely on neighbors and word of mouth, according to the official.

Authorities have opened a family assistance center at the Surfside recreational center for individuals unable to locate loved ones who live in the Champlain Towers South. Anyone with family members from the condominium who are either safe or still missing is urged to call 305-614-1819 to account for them.

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Miami-area condo collapse: 4 dead, 159 unaccounted for as search and rescue efforts continue

Yahoo News 25 June, 2021 - 09:17am

Speaking at a press conference on Friday morning, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that the death toll had risen to four and that 159 people were unaccounted for, up from 99 the day before.

“Unfortunately, this has been a tragic night,” Cava said.

Heavy machinery was brought in to assist in the search and rescue efforts, which she described as “very active” as they entered a second full day.

More than 130 firefighters are involved in the operation, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said. Most are using “light” equipment, including shovels and handsaws, as they sift through the wreckage.

Heavy rain showers have further complicated the already-delicate task of searching the pile. Small fires have also broken out, briefly halting rescue efforts.

Aerial footage showed a line of rescue workers removing debris with red buckets from one area of the collapsed condo.

About 55 of the building’s 136 units collapsed at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Nearly three dozen people were pulled from the rubble by midmorning Thursday, but no new rescues were reported Friday.

Three more bodies were removed overnight, and Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said authorities were working with the medical examiner’s office to identify the victims.

Still, officials remained hopeful that some survivors might be found.

“We still have hope that we will find people alive,” Cava said.

Rescue workers continue to hear sounds amid the rubble, but Jadallah cautioned that they were not necessarily human sounds, but could also be twisting metal and shifting debris.

“Every time we hear a sound, we concentrate on those areas,” Jadallah said.

President Biden authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts, as well as to provide help for displaced families.

"It's a tough, tough time," Biden told reporters at the White House Friday before signing a bill designating the National Pulse Memorial at the site of the deadly 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.

"There's so many people waiting," Biden said of the family members waiting for news of their loved ones in Surfside. "So our hearts go out to them, the people of Florida."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who declared a state of emergency to make it easier for federal aid to be allocated, toured the site on Thursday.

“The TV doesn’t do it justice,” DeSantis said. “It is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that.”

Biden spoke with DeSantis Friday to offer his administration's full assistance.

"We really appreciate having the support of the president," DeSantis said Friday. "And the people of Florida really appreciate the president and his administration stepping up to help people in need."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that his office is helping get emergency visas approved for people from over a dozen countries who have close relatives among the missing.

It is unclear what caused the building, which was built in 1981, to collapse.

A researcher at Florida International University told USA Today that the building has been sinking into the wetlands at an alarming rate since the 1990s, according to a 2020 study conducted by the school. But it’s too soon to say whether that contributed to its collapse.

“This is a catastrophic failure of that building,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Thursday.

Barry Cohen, one of the building’s residents, told the Associated Press that he and his wife were asleep when he heard what he thought was a crack of lightning. The couple went onto their balcony, then opened the door to the building’s hallway to a “gaping hole of rubble.” They were eventually rescued by firefighters using a cherry picker.

Cohen, a former vice mayor of Surfside, said he raised concerns years ago about whether nearby construction might be causing damage to the building, after seeing cracks in the pavement by the pool.

Pamela Ramis, who lives across the street from the collapsed building, told Yahoo News that she was awakened at around 1:30 a.m., when her own building started to shake.

When she went outside, she saw the dust and debris and realized the building had collapsed.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Ramis said. “I thought something had exploded, a missile, I don’t know. I never imagined witnessing something like this, especially here in the U.S.”

She said she could hear the search and rescue dogs barking shortly after they arrived.

“I think the dogs arrived around 5 a.m., and they were barking so much,” Ramis said. “Every time I heard a bark, I felt anguish, because I knew they were probably finding bodies.”

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It wasn’t the first time Kessler had sought protection from her child’s father. Court records show Stacey had a history of extremely troubling behavior.

The building had been sinking at an alarming rate - about 2 millimeters a year - according to a 2020 study.

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A resident of the Surfside building that partially collapsed on Thursday took its owners to court over building-maintenance issues, records show.

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President Joe Biden generated some unintended headlines with his Thursday remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure accord.

Rescuers expect a rising death toll with 99 people missing after a 12-story residence partially collapsed near Miami.

The CDC chief doesn’t think lockdowns will be necessary, but her experience at a coronavirus vaccine clinic in Atlanta last week was a reminder of the challenges that remain.

At least one person was killed and many others were feared dead after a 12-story beachfront condo near Miami partially collapsed early Thursday, as rescuers scrambled to reach survivors.

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Lawsuit seeking $5 million says victims of Florida condominium collapse deserve compensation

USA TODAY 25 June, 2021 - 07:04am

A lawsuit has been filed after the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida partially collapsed Thursday morning.

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Rescue efforts continued in Surfside, Florida after part of a 12-story oceanside condo collapsed. USA TODAY

After a beachfront condominium collapsed in Surfside, Florida, a lawsuit, believed to be the first, was filed late Thursday night.  

A class-action lawsuit on behalf of Manuel Drezner, a nearby property owner, and other victims was filed at 11:29 p.m. against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association Inc., Local10 first reported. 

“This action seeks to compensate the victims of this unfathomable loss,” the lawsuit filed by the Brad Sohn Law Firm said.  

The court filing alleges the condominium in did not provide adequate protection for residents and visitors to the building, did not repair structural issues and failed to prevent the “catastrophic” collapse of the building. 

The lawsuit is seeking more than $5 million in damages. 

“According to public statements made by defendant’s attorney Ken Direktor, ‘repair needs had been identified’ with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed,” the lawsuit said. 

At 1:30 a.m. Thursday, a wing of the 12-story building collapsed, killing at least four people and 159 unaccounted for as of Friday morning.  

The collapse was caught on video and drone footage showed the aftermath of the destruction. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials were able to account for 102 people and fire and rescue teams worked into the night Thursday to search for the people still unaccounted for. 

The Miami-Herald reported the building, built in 1981, was going through an inspection required by Florida every 40 years to be recertified. 

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment, found the high rise had been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s in a study conducted in 2020.

“I looked at it this morning and said, ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that,” he said.

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LIVE UPDATES: Miami building collapse death toll rises to 4; at least 159 people still missing

Fox News 24 June, 2021 - 11:47pm

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A massive rescue effort is underway Friday morning in Surfside, Florida, in response to the partial building collapse

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Search-and-rescue operations continue in Surfside, Fla., following the collapse of the Champlain Tower South condo complex Thursday morning. 

At least 159 people remain unaccounted for, with at least four people dead as a result of the collapse. Crews continue to search for any survivors who may be trapped beneath the wreckage, using an array of techniques and technology to find any hint of a person still alive.

The crews, which include about 130 firefighters, have reported hearing tapping and other noises, but it is not clear if the noises are human-made or simply the sounds of the rubble shifting. 

Read more here.

A spokesperson for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told Fox News they will be sending a crew of six engineers and scientists "to collect firsthand information on the Champlain Towers South collapse that will be used to determine if an investigation or study of the building collapse will be conducted."

NIST spokesperson Jennifer Huergo said in an email that the team's work would not interfere with the search and rescue mission and they will not enter the property once it has been deemed safe.

"The NIST experts will work with federal, state and local authorities to identify and preserve materials that might be helpful in understanding why the collapse occurred," she wrote. "If a full investigation or study is conducted, its ultimate goal would be to determine the technical cause of the collapse and, if indicated, to recommend changes to building codes, standards and practices, or other appropriate actions to improve the structural safety of buildings."

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office identified its first victim of Thursday morning's tragedy as 54-year-old Stacie Fang, local news station WSVN-TV reported. Fang was reportedly taken to an area hospital after being recovered early Thursday, and died of blunt force injures.

A spokesperson for the medical examiner's office did not immediately respond to Fox News' request seeking confirmation.

According to WSVN, Fang had been staying on the tenth floor of the building. Her son was also rescued after the collapse, according to the report.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie," reads part of a family statement obtained by the news station,

Bethenny Frankel, through her disaster relief charity, BStrong, is quickly organizing and helping the residents who are displaced after Champlain Towers collapsed in Surfside, Fla. 

The former "Real Housewives" star, 50, has partnered with Global Empowerment Mission, a nonprofit, to help victims. 

"Today, in partnership with @globalempowermentmission, BStrong is distributing $500-$1000 each in cash cards directly to displaced residents in need from the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida. We’re also supplying the Shul of Bal Harbour and other local community centers our BStrong Family Necessities Kits for the entire community affected," Frankel wrote on social media.

To read more, click here.

Heavy cranes are removing debris from the pile using large claws, creating a sound of crashing glass and metal as they pick up a haul and dump it to the side. At the same time, firefighters are tunneling from below, using saws and jackhammers, to search for pockets in the rubble, Miami Dade Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the removal of the debris should make it safer for rescuers to tunnel into pockets where survivors might be trapped.

“Right now we are picking up dangerous pieces that look like they could fall on our search and rescue guys,” he said.

Periodic downpours, as well as strong winds, were adding to the challenges. A fire somewhere deep within the rubble was also a concern. “We’re working around that, it’s not stopping us,” the mayor said.

Local affiliate FOX 32 Chicago reported that 21-year-old Ilan Naibryf, a University of Chicago student, and his girlfriend, Deborah Berezdivin, were believed to have been in the building that collapsed early Thursday morning.

The University of Chicago's Dean of Students, Michele Rasmussen, confirmed the news in a statement provided to FOX 32, writing: "The University of Chicago has confirmed that Ilan Naibryf, a rising fourth-year physics and molecular engineering student in the College, is among the individuals missing following the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida on Thursday, June 24."

"We are listening for sounds," Miami-Dade Fire Chief Jadallah said.

When asked about tapping sounds reported to have been picked up by the sonar technology, Jadallah said that it's "not necessarily tapping, it's just sounds ... it could be various things. It could be just steel twisting, it could be debris raining down. But not specifically sounds of tapping or sounds of human voice."

"Every time that we hear a sound, we concentrate in that area. So, we send additional teams, utilizing the devices, utilizing K9, utilizing personnel. As we continue to hear those sounds we concentrate in those areas."

He said they heard such sounds "throughout the night."

"This work is being done at extreme risk to these individuals. Debris is falling on them as they do their work," Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. "They are proceeding because they are so motivated and they are taking extraordinary risk on the scene every day."

She also said rescuers "have to be pulled off the shift -- that is how motivated they are to continue their efforts."

When asked if she believes people are still alive underneath the debris, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said: "We will continue search and rescue because we still have hope that we will find people alive."

She said rescuers are using sonar technology, K9s, cameras, "everything possible."

FEMA personnel have already begun arriving at the scene, with the first person arriving about 3 a.m. local time. More FEMA personnel are expected to roll in throughout the day.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Ray Jadallah tells reporters 130 firefighters are conducting search and rescue efforts, which have been further bolstered by FEMA support.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed there are now 159 people unaccounted for after Thursday's Surfside building collapse. Meanwhile, 120 people have been accounted for.

The death toll has risen to 4 after three bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight, she said.

The search and rescue efforts continue.

In a Friday morning tweet, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava wrote: "I’m back on the scene of the Surfside building collapse getting a full morning briefing — I will update the media and public shortly."

A press conference is expected to begin momentarily.

The Champlain Towers South drew people from around the globe to enjoy life on South Florida's Atlantic Coast, some for a night, some to live. A couple from Argentina and their young daughter. A beloved retired Miami-area teacher and his wife. Orthodox Jews from Russia. Israelis. The sister of Paraguay's first lady. Others from South America.

They were among the nearly 100 people who remained missing Friday morning, a day after the 12-story building collapsed into rubble early Thursday. Much of the Champlain's beach side sheared off for unknown reasons, pancaking into a pile of concrete and metal more than 30 feet (10 meters) high.

To read more, click here.

Three bodies were pulled from the Surfside building rubble overnight, bringing the total death toll to four, Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tells Good Morning America. The death toll is expected to change as vigorous rescue efforts continue.

The abrupt, deadly collapse of part of the Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside, Fla., is prompting new calls for enhanced oceanfront construction safety protocols and inspections.

"Buildings like this do not fall in America," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Thursday night. "This is a third-world phenomenon, and it’s shocking."

He said the "disturbing" collapse was reminiscent of the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, as far as the way the structure crumbled in moments.

To read more, click here.

An estimated 27 people reported missing following the Thursday morning building collapse are from Latin American countries, including at least nine from Argentina, six from Paraguay, four from Venezuela and three from Uruguay. according to the Miami Herald and The Associated Press.

Among those people were Argentines Dr. Andres Galfrascoli, his husband, Fabian Nuñez and their 6-year-old daughter, Sofia, who had spent Wednesday night there at an apartment belonging to a friend, Nicolas Fernandez.

Galfrascoli, a Buenos Aires plastic surgeon, and Nuñez, a theater producer and accountant, had come to Florida to get away from a COVID-19 resurgence in Argentina and its strict lockdowns. They had worked hard to adopt Sofia, Fernandez said.

The Paraguayans included Sophia López Moreira — the sister of first lady Silvana Abdo and sister-in-law of President Mario Abdo Benítez — and her family.

As daylight breaks in Surfside, Florida, the exhaustive search for the 99 people believed to be missing continues, with one person being confirmed dead so far. Eleven others were injured and four were taken to local hospitals for treatment, authorities have said.

Rescue crews appeared to remove a body from the rubble in a yellow body bag late Thursday -- as they worked through the night to find survivors.

Vice President Kamala Harris appeared to remind President Biden to mention the deadly South Florida condo collapse before leaving a White House event Thursday.

Biden had given remarks on infrastructure and taken questions from the press on that issue as well as voting rights. He then attempted to wrap up by telling reporters "I’ve got to get to a helicopter" before Harris approached.

The president and vice president exchanged a brief, whispered conversation that concluded with Harris saying, "Florida, yeah."

"Oh, yes. I apologize," Biden said, turning back to the microphone as Harris retreated out of camera view. "Yes, thank you, Madame Vice President." Read more.

A massive rescue effort is underway Friday morning in Surfside, Florida, in response to the partial building collapse that killed at least one and resulted in nearly 100 people being unaccounted for.

"The building is literally pancaked," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said in an interview. "It has gone down, and I mean there’s just feet in between stories where there was 10 feet. That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we’re gonna be as successful as we would want to be to find people alive."

Jimmy Patronis, the state’s fire marshal, told reporters that rescue crews will not stop "just because of nightfall. They just may have a different path they pursue." Read more.

President Biden on Friday ordered federal assistance to support the massive response in South Florida after a 12-story building partially collapsed, killing at least one person and trapping others.

"The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts,'' the White House said.

FEMA said in a statement that the assistance is intended to alleviate some of the strain on local and state emergency crews that are working around the clock to rescue those trapped. Read more.

The fact that rescuers heard banging sounds from beneath the collapsed Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside, Fla., just outside Miami, is a good sign that they may yet find additional survivors, according to a former FDNY member who responded to both terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City."

The key to survival is whether or not there's gonna be what we call voids," said Vincent Pickford, a retired FDNY lieutenant and expert on confined space rescue operations. "What they're looking for are pieces of the building that kind of land at right angles to each other so that it creates spaces where people could survive." Read more.

Surfside, Florida Mayor Charles Burkett updated Fox News late Thursday on the deadly building collapse that occurred overnight, in which about half of a high-rise apartment building pancaked down on itself.

At least one person has died and as many as 99 were unaccounted for as of Thursday afternoon, and Burkett told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that such tragic events do not tend to happen in the U.S.

"Buildings like this do not fall in America. This is a third-world phenomenon and it's shocking," he said, praising first responders who rushed to the high-rise along the famous A1A. Read more and watch.

Miami professional sports teams lent a helping hand Thursday after a partial building collapse in Surfside, Florida, left one dead and nearly 100 unaccounted for.

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro and assistant coaches Chris Quinn and Eric Glass were on the scene handing out water at the reunification center after the tragedy in Surfside.

The Miami Dolphins Food Relief Program partner, Seed Miami Food Truck gave out meals to families and first responders in Surfside.

Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins sent vans with meals and water to rescue workers and other essential items and toiletries to residents impacted by the building collapse. Read more.

Communications between Miami-Dade first responders reveal the level-headed reaction as rescuers raced to the site of a collapsed high-rise apartment building in the coastal Florida community of Surfside.

The recordings detailed communications between dispatchers, hazmat units, firefighters and emergency medical responders who rushed to assess the damage and free as many survivors as they could from the crumbled Champlain Towers South building. One firefighter reported arriving "at the rubble pile" with an engine and another vehicle. 

"We’re gonna need some backboards," he said. "We’ve got two [victims] over here we’re gonna need to extricate." 

A condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday morning has left many wondering what caused the massive implosion, which has so far killed one person and left 99 people unaccounted for.

Miami-Dade County authorities are currently conducting an investigation into the Champlain Towers South Condo collapse, though an official cause behind the devastation has yet to be determined.

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Some Ways to Help Victims of the Surfside Building Collapse

NBC 6 South Florida 24 June, 2021 - 07:32pm

The community is coming together after a high-rise condo building collapsed early Thursday in Surfside.

About half of the 130 units at Champlain Towers were affected by the collapse. Dozens have been rescued from the wreckage, but many are still unaccounted for.

While some organizations are collecting donations in the aftermath of the tragedy, public officials say they've received plenty of goods and donations at this time. However, cash donations are being accepted.

"At this time, we have received all of the donations of goods and volunteers as we can handle," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. "We are very very grateful for everyone who has contributed and we'll let people know as the need presents."

Levine-Cava pointed out two organizations that are collecting cash donations. More information below.

The Miami Heat and several local organizations have launched a hardship fund for the victims: supportsurfside.org

You can make a one-time donation or set a monthly payment through PayPal.

The Shul of Bal Harbour created a central fund that will be donated as needed to victims and their families. Click here to donate to the Miami Tragedy Central Emergency Fund.

Here are some other organizations accepting donations.

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation launched an emergency fund for families and individuals for short-term and long-term needs. Click here to make a monetary donation online.

Those in need of crisis counseling and housing assistance can call 211.

Members of the clergy are on-site at the Surfside Community Center. To reach a chaplain, email rabbiklein@gmjf.org.

The Shul in Surfside is accepting donations of money and essential items to distribute to survivors. They are accepting the following:

You can also make a monetary donation here.

The Shul is located at 9540 Collins Ave., Surfside, 33154.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami is collecting financial donations to assist those affected by the partial collapse of the Champlain condominiums, in Surfside, FL.

Donations are being collected through the Catholic Charities website.

Click here to go directly to the page and choose Disaster Relief from the dropdown menu.

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